Poor, poor Putin – and others

On paper, it is your daughter, other relatives, best friends, dummies who own these companies. But of course, it is you stashing away billions out of sight of practically everybody, while ensuring you can access your loot whenever you need to and wherever you want to. What more does a person need? Not the Panama Papers.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Mr Peskov, claimed that Monday’s revelations from the Panama Papers revealed hardly anything new. Which means that Mr Putin & co have been at it for decades and that this is known in Russia and the rest of the universe.

To my great shame, I have to admit, that according to this PR statement, I was the only one who was surprised and dismayed by all this non-news. On the other hand: Mr Peskov’s wife seems to be involved with one of Mr Putin’s off-shore companies. Therefore, his  statement should not surprise nor dismay.

By now, it is clear it is not just Mr Putin & co who parked billions in off-shore companies. Plenty members, past and present, of the Chinese ruling body took up this non-communist hobby as well. They also stashed away hoards in off-shore companies.

Where the Kremlin coldly denied things, the Chinese government went into overdrive. Chinese media were told to remove bits, bytes, printed matter, anything referring to the Panama Papers. According to Chinese PR – and censors – the whole affair is nothing but “western disinformation”. In which case I clamour for more such disinformation!

No hope it will ever happen in China, but several western heads of state now face either votes of no confidence, or a look into their creative hobbies. The Guardian and other papers use the indignant tone and write about the public’s outrage. Oh dear!

Do the Guardian and other media get it right? Is everybody outraged at folks using off-shore companies to evade paying taxes? Okay, in the case of Putin & co or the Chinese elite and similar folks, one can be pretty certain most of the money was looted from the poor. It is right to be outraged about such deeds by Putin, Gunnlaughsson, or any other President, Prime Minister, world leader.

But to be honest: are people not also slightly outraged at having been outsmarted by others using legal strategies to evade paying taxes?

Be honest: if you had the chance and the money, wouldn’t you rather park your money off-shore, than in some bank’s savings account rendering minimal or even negative interest while your savings are also taxed?

Wouldn’t you prefer to keep a bit of your hard-earned cash out of sight, instead of most of it being used to say, prop up Greece or some other financial black hole? The media concentrate on the rich and famous, but there are plenty not-that-rich and not-that-famous who were and are smart enough, to use off-shore constructions.

Guardian Kremlin’s dismissal of Panama Papers
Guardian Chinese censorship and Panama Papers


About Kate

Multilingual arts & culture journalist, blogger, columnist, writer and translator. Contributor to international (news) media. 2014 winning columnist Gentse Schrijversdagen, Gand, Belgium.
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